If your employee persona looks like this…
It is a recipe for disaster.
Because you just clubbed King Charles and The Prince of Darkness - Ozzy Osbourne under the same persona!
Now imagine designing an Employee Experience program using this data. One that’ll serve both the rockstar and the monarch. Chances are it just won’t work very well.
So, that brings us to our question. What do good employee personas look like?
☕ Let’s start with Starbucks.
Starbucks created three employee personas and built three different tracks of EX strategies for each of these personas.
Even in one glance, you can see that the preferences, motivations and potential problems for all three of these personas would be different.
🩹 Then there’s 3M.
3M recognized eight employee personas among its 85000+ workforce, back in 2009. Four of them are:
💻 Lastly, Cisco.
Cisco applied the new world order to identify five personas. This one is especially interesting for the hybrid work world.
Okay, so, creating employee personas is a big task. But the good part is, once you have your personas detailed out, it becomes so much easier to design your employee experience strategy.
In our latest persona-led Employee Experience strategy guide, we did a deep dive into the 4-step framework to build personas and EX strategies. It is simple, easy-to-follow, and a great place to start. Plus, it includes a free employee persona template like the one below 👇
Demographics is, of course, the easiest piece of data to get your hands on. But only depending on details like age, gender, ethnicity, income level, and marital status to create personas can lead to poor assumptions and stereotypes. You don’t want that!
For instance, assuming that all women will want more work-life balance opportunities than other genders. Or, that younger employees have a lot more free time to dedicate to work could be some of the many biases that could be born out of relying only on demographic data.
Instead, add on psychographic data to build more nuanced and accurate personas. It provides insights into people's attitudes, beliefs, values, interests, hobbies, lifestyle choices, and motivations.
While demographics tell you “who” an employee is, psychographics help you understand the "why" behind employee behaviors and preferences.
We aren’t against gut feelings or intuition. But even if that’s what you want to go with, use data to validate your decision for everyone else’s benefit. And we get it - you’ve probably been working with these employees for years now and know what could probably be the personas already.
But going by your assumptions especially when you have access to data may not be the wise thing to do. Your personal biases and subjective opinions can often play up unconsciously, and sometimes, in damaging ways.
Plus, using data - that’s the best way to get company-wide alignment, and scaling your EX strategy.
It can be very tempting to create so many different personas to account for the tiny differences that naturally make up any population. But as we saw with the 3M example, 5-10 personas are usually plenty.
So if you find yourself struggling to limit yourself or identify what could be the 5-10 personas to look at, start at the business side of things.
Like, Dr. Janel Field says, think of one initiative in your organization. It could be a learning program or a new lateral movement opportunity. Then work backwards to see what types of personas would benefit from such an initiative and identify those within your organization.
There are a bunch of generic employee personas floating around on the internet. The achievers, the traditionalists, the caregivers, and so on and so forth. While that may be a great place to understand the diversity of personas, those may not be relevant to your business. The real gold lies in your internal data. That’s where you should begin. Your feedback data, exit interview data, focus group data, event, performance, and demographics data. Use this to create authentic personas - not some fake, non-existent persona manufactured by the internet.
Building employee personas can take time and needs quite a bit of data scientist-like skills. And scaling that effort manually can be tough. That’s when Tydy can help.
Tydy connects data from multiple apps and platforms within your organization to create a unified profile of each employee. Yup, even if that’s 50 or 50000 employees. You can then use that level of understanding to segment and create employee personas.
Not a bad place to start when designing your EX strategy huh?
💼 Read our newest Case Study: How Cipla created personalized employee onboarding experiences for its new hires at scale
🎨 Design thinking for employee experience by MIT Sloan
🔎 Should algorithms make layoff decisions? by SHRM
See you next month with more on EX strategy.
In the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback - on the newsletter, the persona template, the EX strategy. Here’s where you can find me: email@example.com.